Elsa Einstein

Elsa Einstein

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Elsa Einstein was a German cousin and the second wife of Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

. Elsa had the surname of Einstein at birth, lost it when she took the name of her first husband Max Löwenthal, and regained it in 1919 when she married her cousin Albert.

Early life

Elsa, the daughter of Rudolf Einstein, was born in Hechingen
Hechingen is a town in central Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is situated about south of the state capital of Stuttgart and north of Lake Constance and the Swiss border.- City districts :...

 in January 1876. She had two sisters; Paula (c. 1878–c. 1955) and Hermine (1872–1942). Rudolf was a textile manufacturer in Hechingen. During the regular visits with the family in Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

, she often played with her cousin Albert. In her Swabian
Swabian may refer:* to the German region of Swabia ; or* to Swabian German, a dialect spoken in Baden-Württemberg in south-west Germany and adjoining areas See also:...

 dialect, she called him "Albertle". After Albert Einstein had left Germany in 1894 to follow his family to Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

, their ways parted.

Married life

In 1896, Elsa married textiles trader Max Löwenthal (1864–1914), from Berlin, with whom she had three children: daughters Ilse and Margot and a son who was born and died in 1903. They lived together in Hechingen. In 1902, Max Loewenthal took a job in Berlin. His family stayed in Hechingen. She divorced Max on May 11, 1908, and moved with her two daughters to an apartment above her parents on Haberlandstrasse 5, in Berlin.

She began a relationship with her cousin Albert Einstein at Easter 1912 and married him on June 2, 1919. Elsa's and Albert's mothers were sisters, which made Elsa and Albert first cousins, and their fathers were first cousins. Ilse and Margot, Albert Einstein's first cousins once removed, had already changed their surname to Einstein and were now also his stepdaughters.

With daughters Ilse and Margot, the Einsteins formed a close-knit family. Although Albert and Elsa never produced any children of their own, Albert raised Ilse and Margot as his own. They lived in the Berlin area, also having a summer house in Caputh
Caputh is a village in the municipality of Schwielowsee, Potsdam-Mittelmark, Brandenburg, Germany.Caputh got a railway station in 1904...

 in nearby Potsdam
Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....


Elsa spent most of her marriage with Albert acting as gatekeeper, protecting him from unwelcome visitors and charlatans. She also was the driving force building their summer house in 1929.

Late life

In 1933, Albert and Elsa Einstein immigrated to Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton is a community located in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States. It is best known as the location of Princeton University, which has been sited in the community since 1756...

, USA. In autumn 1935, they moved to a house at 112 Mercer Street, bought that August, but shortly afterwards Elsa developed an eye swelling and was diagnosed with heart and kidney problems. Elsa died after a painful illness on December 20, 1936, in the house in Mercer Street.